Namaste . . . to Myself

So many of the phrases that I use when talking and writing about palliative care – meeting people where they are, starting low and going slow[ly] (when managing pain meds), following the signs that the body shows us – apply surprisingly well to yoga. Yogic wisdom encourages us to go at our own pace, focusing on where we are in our own practice and on our own mat on any given day.

Of course, I was always the person peeking at the forms on the mats around me, seeing how I stacked up in terms of flexibility, stamina, strength. Searching for ways to compete within this practice of meditation and self-discovery.

Until I hadn’t done yoga in over a year. Until I realized that I could no longer blame my extra pounds on having just had my second baby. . . because that baby is now walking, his chubby legs and gregarious smile propelling him toward – no, into – the adventures of toddlerhood.

Tonight I went back to yoga. To a beginner class. And I reached and I stretched and I lunged and it wasn’t pretty or graceful, but for once my mind stayed on my mat as if there were no one else in the room. It was time for a huge slice of humble pie. With a side of self-acceptance.


I truly did not plan this post as a way to work in another of my old poems, but somewhere on my walk to and from class I remembered that these are lessons I have worked on before:


                                                     Sunday Morning 

                                                     I salute the Easter sun

                                                     from my mat

                                                     air sweetened by incense

                                                     in place of lilies

                                                     When people spoke of yoga

                                                     saving their lives

                                                     I was a skeptic

                                                     But each time I rise

                                                     from savasana

                                                     I am reborn


Tonight, of course, we started in savasana.



Turn the Mirror on Yourself

I’m at a conference – a very exciting conference – on palliative care, which is the field of medicine that focuses on the quality of life for patients with life-limiting or -threatening illnesses, as well as that of their caregivers. Sitting in a huge hall of huge people with huge ideas, I can barely keep still, can barely keep my eyes, ears, brain focused on the presentations before me because each one is so exciting, so inspirational, so thought-provoking, that a thousand other thoughts spin out from it: things I want to learn, to do, to teach. There is session upon session, lectures, discussions, questions, and an entire cavernous hall filled with posters, each jam-packed with its own inventory of results, conclusions, directions for future research. It’s so much that my brain begins to fog and stall, but there is so much still to see and explore and absorb that I try to push on, try to will the tendrils of curiosity to get back out there, pick up just a little bit more. Because I’ve only been to xx sessions, only been at this for xx hours, only experienced xx percent of what is here. When you look at the quantity of my experience, it’s just not enough.

Although the quality has been superb.






Still so much to learn.